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Maine could become latest state to adopt EV mandate, new Delaware rules already enacted

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An upcoming meeting in Maine could determine whether the state becomes the latest to adopt an electric vehicle mandate.

The state’s Board of Environmental Protection will discuss the proposed regulations Dec. 21 after previously voting in favor of mirroring California’s Advanced Clear Car II (ACC II) Program.

The proposed program would require 43% of Maine’s Model Year 2027 and newer vehicles to be zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). By 2032, 82% of MY2032 and newer vehicles would have to be carbon-free.

For MY2035 and beyond, it would no longer be permissible to sell new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the state.

Although Maine’s BEP voted in October to adopt the act, it can’t officially pass it until members have reviewed all of the public comments submitted, according to the Maine Wire.

Among the dozens of people and organizations to voice their support for the proposal’s adaption was The Nature Conservancy, which said the proposed rule supports Maine’s statutory greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction requirements and climate goals.

“Accelerating Maine’s transition to electric vehicles is a key strategy identified by the Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector,” it said in its letter. “…Adoption of ACC II builds on work Maine has already done to accelerate, incentivize, and ease the adoption of zero-emission vehicles (ZEV).”

Todd Martin, the National Parks Conservation Association’s northeast senior manager, also wrote in support of the program, saying cutting emissions is necessary to protect forests, greenspace, and wildlife.

“Accelerating the adoption of electric light-duty vehicles here in Maine is one of the single biggest actions we can take to improve air quality and visibility for national park visitors,” Martin wrote. “Maine’s transportation sector produced half of statewide, fossil-fuel GHG emissions in 2022, or approximately eight million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Light-duty cars and trucks accounted for about 60% of total sector GHG emissions.

“Electric vehicles have no tailpipe emissions, and, given Maine’s relatively clean electricity mix, have a much smaller carbon footprint than fossil fuel-powered cars. That energy mix will continue to become less carbon intensive as Maine makes progress towards its 80% renewable energy mandate by 2030. More electric vehicles on the road in Maine will reduce air pollution, hazy views, and help Maine meet its climate change goals.”

Supporters of the bill were in the minority; most of the more than 1,000 people who submitted feedback opposed it.

The Maine Automobile Dealers Association (MADA) said the rule would result in “significant increases in the cost of doing business for its members.”

Bruce Gerrity, a lawyer representing the association, said the program should be considered by the Maine Legislature before being decided upon solely by the BEP.

He also said:

    • Cost is a factor, both in terms of being able to afford to own and charge an EV;
    • There aren’t enough reliable supplies of critical battery materials and it will take time for automakers to address the issue;
    • ZEVs still face a “myriad” of challenges; and
    • As just 4% of vehicles sold in Maine are ZEVs, sales should be defined as a sale to the end-user rather than the delivery to dealerships.

“MADA strongly urges the BEP to postpone ACCII until the Legislature has had the opportunity to consider the issues presented by rule,” Gerrity said. “If the Board decides to promulgate a rule, sales must be recognized only after an end-use consumer buys the unit.

“In short, no rule should be promulgated until it is revised to more appropriately [incentivize] Maine car buyers and ZEV technical challenges are understood and have been thoroughly addressed.”

Meanwhile, Delaware’s ACC II act took effect Monday after being approved by State Secretary Shawn M. Garvin last month. Delaware’s legislation is also an adoption of California’s act, which was the first in the nation to begin phasing out ICE sales.

However, Delaware’s legislation is unique in that it will cap the ZEV requirement at 82%. Like California, it will require OEMs to increase the amount of ZEV options gradually, starting with 2027 when 43% of new cars and trucks sent to the state for sale must be emission-free.

The figure will increase to 82% by 2032, and the regulations will expire in MY 2033.

Last month, New Jersey became the latest state to require automakers to exclusively manufacture ZEVs by 2035 when it adopted California’s Advanced Clean Cars II rule.

The percentage will increase each year, peaking at 100% in 2035 and subsequent years.

According to the National Conference of State Legislators, states that have adopted California’s act include Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A number of automakers — including Volvo, Buick, and Bentley, for example — have pledged to stop selling ICE vehicles by 2030.

However, some other automakers including General Motors (GM) and Ford have scaled back on their EV goals, executives said during recent Q3 earnings calls.

Paul Jacobson, GM’s chief financial officer, told investors that the OEM is dropping its previously announced EV production plans. This includes the 100,000 EV production target it had for the second half of 2023 and a separate 400,000 EVs goal it hoped to meet by the first half of next year, he said.

Mary Barra, GM’s CEO, called the road to EV transformation “a bit bumpy, which is not unexpected.”

“And so, what we’re moving to is something that we can react in a much more agile way to make sure that we have the right vehicles,” Barra told investors. “And I believe [the] portfolio that we have looks at the most important segments and makes sure that we have the right entries. We’re already seeing strong demand for entries when we have EVs that people actually want to buy. So, I think there is a lot of focus in the portfolio to have the right cells, but just to give ourselves more flexibility.”

During Ford’s Q3 earnings call, Chief Financial Officer John Lawler said the company’s EV branch, Model e, lost $1.3 billion during the quarter. Given the “challenging market” for Generation 1 productions, he said the OEM is postponing about $12 billion in EV-related spending.

Meanwhile, a Mercedes-Benz executive said during the OEM’s Q3 earnings call that the current EV space is neither healthy nor sustainable moving forward.

“EV is a very competitive space,” said Harald Wilhelm, Mercedes’ chief financial officer. “I mean, come on, with price discounts or some of the other guys, more than 30%, some of the traditional players selling best vehicles below the pricing level of ICE [internal combustion engine] with variable costs probably sitting above, as you know. I would say this is a pretty brutal space.”


Featured image courtesy of SweetBunFactory/iStock

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